We know that doing exercise is really good for our bodies. It makes our heart stronger, our muscles and bones healthier, and helps our immune system work better.
But did you know that exercise is also great for our minds? Scientists have recently discovered that moving our bodies regularly can make our brains feel happier and less stressed.
This article will explore all the cool ways exercise can help our minds, and we’ll even talk about some real-life examples.
Exercise and How it Helps Our Minds & Brains
When we exercise, our brains release special chemicals that can make us feel really good. These chemicals help us feel happy, relaxed, and less worried.
One of these special chemicals is called endorphins, which are like natural painkillers that also make us feel happier. Have you ever heard of the “runner’s high”? That’s the feeling people get when they run a lot, and their brain releases lots of endorphins.
Think about marathon runners, for example. They run really long distances, and because of that, their brains release lots of endorphins. This makes them feel proud, happy, and less nervous.
But you don’t have to run a marathon to feel this way. Even doing things like taking a brisk walk, riding a bike, or dancing in a Zumba class can make our brains release endorphins, and that’s great for our mood.
How Exercise Can Help Us Sleep Better
Sleeping well is super important for our minds. If we don’t sleep well, we might start feeling sad or worried. Doing exercise can actually help us sleep better. When we move our bodies, our brains produce a chemical called serotonin. This chemical helps us control our mood, appetite, and sleep. Also, exercise lowers another chemical called cortisol, which is the “stress hormone.”
Let’s say someone has trouble sleeping like they have insomnia. Doing regular exercise can really help them. Researchers at the Center for Disease Control,found that if they do about 2 and a half hours of exercise every week, their sleep can get 65% better! And they won’t just sleep better at night but also feel more awake during the day.
Feeling Good About Ourselves
Setting goals for ourselves and achieving them through exercise can make us feel really good about who we are.
This feeling of accomplishment can make us like ourselves more and feel more confident. And when we’re confident, we can do better in other parts of our life too. For example, if someone exercises a lot and loses weight, they might feel more confident at work or with friends.
Exercise Can Help with Feeling Sad and Worried
Did you know that exercise can help if you’re feeling sad or anxious? When we move around, our brains get stronger and happier. Exercise can even make our brains grow new cells! This helps release chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine that can lift our mood.
Imagine someone who’s feeling really down or worried. If they do things like yoga or swimming regularly, it can help them feel better. Yoga is especially good because it has different poses, breathing exercises, and meditation. These things make our minds relax and feel less sad or worried.
Dealing with Stress Through Exercise
Everybody gets stressed sometimes, but exercise can be like a superhero power against stress. When we exercise, our brains make endorphins, which are like our brain’s own happy medicine. Exercise also helps our body’s nervous system, making it easier for us to handle stress.
Think about jobs where people work in offices. Sometimes, these places have programs that encourage workers to exercise. When employees join in and do exercise, they say they can handle stress better and have a better balance between work and everything else.
Keeping Our Brains Strong as We Get Older
As we grow older, our brain might not work as well as it used to. But guess what? Exercise can help slow down this process!
Activities like walking, dancing, or even doing puzzles can make our brains work better. For example, in places where older people live together, they often have dance classes or other fun activities. These help their brains stay sharp, along with their bodies.
Easy Ways to Stay Active
Walking is a fantastic way to stay active. You can take a stroll around your neighborhood, walk to a friend’s house, or even walk your dog. Try to take at least 30 minutes of brisk walking most days.
Mall walking or Big Box store (think Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, others) walking are great ways to get moving. The added plus is they are climate controlled and offer fun things to see.
Remember how much fun playing games like tag, catch, or kickball is? Gather some friends or family members and have a friendly game outside. It’s a great way to exercise without even realizing it. There are all kinds of affordable yard games available, or you can make them yourself.
If you have a bike, take it for a spin around your neighborhood. Riding a bike is not only fun, but it also gives your legs and heart a good workout.
Put on your favorite music and have a dance party in your living room. Dancing is not only enjoyable but also helps you get moving. I love doing this when I am making dinner, baking, or even doing chores. A great way to get moving!
Help out around the house by doing chores that involve moving around. Sweeping, vacuuming, and gardening are all activities that count as exercise.
Spend a few minutes each day stretching your body. Stretching keeps your muscles flexible and can make you feel more relaxed.
Jumping rope is a fun way to get your heart pumping. You can do it alone or invite friends to join in.
Play active video games or virtual reality apps that require you to move your body. They can be a fun way to exercise while having a good time.
Join Clubs or Teams
Many schools and communities offer clubs or teams for sports like soccer, basketball, or swimming. Joining one of these can be a great way to stay active and make new friends.
Take the Stairs
Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you have the choice. It’s a simple way to fit in some extra physical activity.
Remember, the goal is to move your body in ways that you enjoy. Find activities that make you happy and make them a part of your daily routine. By staying active, you’ll not only keep your body healthy but also give your mind a boost of happiness and positivity.
Exercise doesn’t just make our bodies strong; it also keeps our minds healthy. Doing regular exercise can make us happier, help us deal with stress, make us less sad and worried, and even help us sleep better.
While exercise isn’t a replacement for other ways we take care of our minds, it’s an important part of staying mentally well.
Remember, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Once you get the go-ahead, moving your body regularly can give your mind a big boost and make you feel great overall.